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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Descriptive Statistics. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

Learn more about Descriptive Statistics (online CE course)

The mean, also called the arithmetic mean or the average, is simply the sum of all the data points divided by the number of points. It is denoted with . The formula for the mean is:

For example, here are the number of hours that some students worked on a project:
    # hours worked
The average time spent working was:
The average is the most common way of calculating central tendency. Some of its characteristics are:
  • easy to calculate
  • only one exists for any data set
  • affected by all observations, and therefore strongly affected by outliers
  • used in many statistics calculations